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British Prime Minister David Cameron meets with the members of the House of Commons.

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Afghanistan 27, U.s. 12, Dobbins 6, United States 4, Wales 4, Us 4, America 4, London 3, Pakistan 3, Ireland 3, Northern Ireland 3, Kabul 3, Usip 2, Taliban 2, Asia 2, Angela Merkel 2, Haiti 2, Bosnia 2, Washington 2, Somalia 2,
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  CSPAN    Question Time    British Prime Minister David Cameron meets  
   with the members of the House of Commons.  

    March 3, 2014
    12:00 - 1:01am EST  

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country. "washington journal," live every morning with your tweets and facebook comments on c-span. >> c-span, we bring public affairs of ends from washington directly to you, putting you in a room at congressional hearings, briefings and conferences and offering complete gavel-to-gavel coverage of the u.s. house as a public service of private industry. we are c-span, created by the cable tv industry 35 years ago and funded your local cable or satellite provider. watch as in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. returned to the house of commons last week after a brief recess. british prime minister david cameron answered questions wednesday on funding for flood defense, unemployment and cuts to the u.k.'s defense programs. from london, this is just over
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30 minutes. >> questions for the prime minister. >> question number one, mr. speaker. >> thank you, mr. speaker. >> this morning i had meetings with ministerial colleagues and according to my duties, i shall have further such meetings later today. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i think we should also congratulate on his tremendous win in that winter olympics. it was announced a bonuses of 2.3 billion pounds. 140% pay rise for the chief executive. when ordinary families face a cost-of-living crisis. isn't it time for this government to listen to labor to get our young people back to work? >> i congratulate the olympic team for the best metal
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performance since 1924 at a winter's game. it was a huge honor to welcome them. we had an explanation of the task of the skeleton bobsledding and indeed curling. congratulation goes to everyone involved and all those who helped to train them. on the issue of bank bonuses -- they are well down from the appalling situation. what we need to see if the proper control of all forms of pay. what i do not want to see and and what i think we are getting is focusing only on bonuses and because you can clawback a bonus. -- pay.ot clawback lay we do not want to go back to the days where you could be paid well for a poor performance. >> does a prime minister recognize it as part of the job at church leaders to challenge governments, but will he discuss
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measures that can help you pull out of poverty, like cutting taxes? there is nothing particularly moral about borrowing even more borrowed money which can trap people in poverty. >> i think my friend who is a distinguished churchman himself talked perfect sense. there is nothing moral about running up huge deficits about out of control welfare bills. if we do not deal with these problems, the whole country will be poorer. we should listen to the former arch bishop of canterbury. he said the churches should be aware of the dangers of blindly defending a gargantuan welfare budget that every serious politician would cut as a matter of economic common sense. i think serious politicians have to engage in it and that should go for everybody.
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>> ed miliband. >> i join my honorable friend's and congratulate the team on their brilliant performance at the winter olympics. as the immediate threat of flood passes, some levels are still underwater and hundreds of businesses and farms are still struggling to recover. the committee on climate change, the u.k. statistical authority have all said the government investment in flood defenses has fallen. in the light of this, does the prime minister think it is right to revisit the plan for investment in flood defense? >> we will look carefully at the plans. we have set out spending figures all the way out through 2020, not all of which are fully committed. i said two weeks ago as the waters reside and has that ea and others can look at what happened, we can review and see what new measures might be necessary. let me repeat the point that this four year period in this
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parliament, overall spending has gone up. >> mr. speaker, i'm afraid that the figures he is quoting is phony and i believe he knows it. this is why that u.k. statistical authority -- they say this -- government-funded for flood defenses was lower in both nominal and real terms during the current spending periods. the only way to claim otherwise is ignoring inflation and claiming credit for the money that other organizations spend. why won't the administrator admit it? he has been called out. >> the fact is you look at 2010 when i became prime minister through 2014, the spending has been 2.4 billion more than the 2.2 billion in the previous four years. if you look at the 5 year
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period. the spending is higher than the previous five years. those are the facts. i think having this debate is slightly pointless. the whole country should be coming together to deal with this. the fact is, from the moment he turned up in a bloody village, with a labor candidate alongside him, he completely misjudged the mood of the country. >> first of all, it is a simple choice between the u.k. statistic authority and him. people will believe the u.k. statistic authority. the assessment of how much to invest in flood defense depends significantly on your assessment of the risks posed by man-made climate change. he said in opposition to climate change this -- it is easy to do the softer things like riding
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your bike and rebuilding your house to make it green. but it is only clear you mean it one you do the tough things as well, like telling the truth about climate change. mr. speaker, what is the truth about climate change? >> the truth is that this government has a program to reduce carbon across our economy. we started with the government itself. compared with the government he left in 2010 when he was climate change secretary, the government own carbon emissions are down 14%. let's return to the issue flood defense spending. the people will want to know this. he is committed to a zero-based spending review. yes, we are, mr. shadow chancellor. that means that zero base pending review means that they
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cannot ledge to match the blood -- flood defense spending we are making in 2015, all the way to 2020. they have no guarantee to the people of the country that they will take climate change seriously or flood defense seriously. >> that is total nonsense and he knows it. it is interesting. some of in opposition wanted to talk as much as he could about climate change and now is desperate to get off the subject. i asked him a question. will he just set out for his party and for the country, his views about man-made climate change -- >> man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats that this country and the world faces. that is why we have the world's first green investment bank here in britain. that is why unlike 13 wasted years of labor we are building , the first nuclear power
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station in years for this country. that is why we have cut carbon emissions by 14% since we came into office. they talk a good game about it, but it takes people to come in effectively and deal with it. >> excellent. we are finally getting somewhere. i agree with what he said about the importance of climate change. the reason this matters, the reason this matters is that there are people in the most important positions in the government going around and questioning climate change. this is what the environment secretary says -- people get very emotional about it. people should just accept the climate has been changing for centuries. the energy minister went on about climate change. you are not going to draw me on that. i haven't had time to get into the climate change debate.
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[laughter] he is the energy minister, mr. speaker. will the prime minister clarify, is he happy that there are climate change deniers in his government? >> this is obviously the new approach to prime minister's questions. you come in and praise the prime minister for his commitment to climate change. i like the new style. i think this is much more refreshing. this government has a solid track record of cutting carbon and investing in nuclear. the biggest renewable energy program we have seen in this country, for the first time in a long time we are on track to the renewable target. perhaps he would like to get up again and congratulate me on the record on the energy environment. >> the whole country will have heard they cannot answer the question about whether you need
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to believe in man-made climate change to be part of his government. it was a basic part to be a matter of individual conscience. it used to be the thing he claimed was his passion above all else. here is the thing -- >> order. order. the questions and the answers will be heard, however long it takes for those who are exercising their vocal cords and the vocal what it ought to come down. if -- >> it we will properly protect the british people against the threats that they face, we cannot have doubt and confusion in his government on these issues. doesn't he need to rediscover the courage of his past convictions and tell his party to get real on climate change? >> you can measure the current of the conviction by the acting government. the green investment bank. an investment in renewables. that investments in nuclear.
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he talks a good game, but he didn't achieve it when he was in office. the most serious form of denial we have today in british politics is the reality deniers of the party opposite. what is their plan for the deficit? nothing. what is their plan for reform? nothing. that is what i'm in change requires. long-term investments like high-speed rail and nuclear power and fixing our economy. that is what this government is doing. all he does is get up and deliver a lot of hot air. >> can i ask my friend with a public concern at work on whether he can get advice on the whistleblowing work? say whether he could bring
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together recommendations and how to stop people being persecuted and others. >> i'm grateful for my friend's question. the public interest disclosure act protects most workers from being unfairly dismissed by their employers when they have blown the whistle. we have strengthened protections. especially in large organizations. i am very happy to make sure that he discusses with the relevant government ministers any further steps been taken in this direction. >> does the prime minister get the depth of the hurt among victims' families and the deep sense of public outrage across the country as a result of the outcome of the downey case? he needs to understand that for
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an official letter signed by the official to trump without any parliamentary or legislative action is deeply offensive to the public in this country. will he knaus rap -- will he now scrap these get out of jail free letters? will he do everything in his power to reverse the despicable decision so justice can be done for the families of the bereaved? >> let me say i completely understand that depth that people feel right across the country about the appalling events that happened in 1982 in the fact of the person responsible is not going to be appropriately tried. of course it is shocking. our first that should be those 11 soldiers and their families and their friends. it might have happened 32 years ago, but anyone who has lost
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someone in a situation like that will remember them. we should be clear that the men never should have received a letter that he received. it was a dreadful mistake and a mistake that we now need to make sure it never happens again. we need to stick to the principles that we are a country and the government under the rule of law. >> thank you, mr. speaker. my friend has taken swift actions to help flooded communities. i welcome the 10 million pounds relief fund for farmers. in light of recent events, can my friend reassure those in my constituency that necessary protections will be given to their lands and react swiftly that this government is fun for the long-term security of this profitable industry. >> she makes an important point.
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i'm glad she is advertising this fund that hope will be useful for those who have lost productive land because it has been underwater for so long. the point she makes about farmers and land owners and others about being nervous because of ea rules, i think the pendulum swung too far against dredging and that needs to change and that will change. it will not be the only answer, but he does have a proper part in properly managing the landscape. >> mr. speaker, the tragic death of sarah childs devastated her family and shocked the community. a much loved his sister and daughter, she was killed and her sister, claire, pregnant, was severely injured by speeding driver going 64 miles an hour who got four years in prison.
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does the prime minister agree that the time has come to look again and at the sentencing of those who kill with a car? >> first of all, my heart goes out to the constituents and the family of the constituents in this incident. i do think it is right to look again at the motoring offenses and the penalties that are given. i discussed this issue with the secretary of state justice you has made some proposals and changes in this area. i'm sure he'll be listening carefully to what the gentleman has said. >> thank you, mr. speaker. there is a recommendation for an investigation.
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is the prime minister astounded as i am that nhs wales thinks the chief medical director of england is not legitimate? will he were to try to get his party to reverse the decision? >> i think the honorable lady makes an important point. the view should be respected and listened to in wales. i think the point she makes about the royal college of surgeons and what they have said today, what they are saying effectively is that there are people who are dying in wales because the waiting list is too long because it is not in our poorly managed or reformed in wales. that is a matter for the welsh assembly government and they need to get their act together. >> thank you, mr. speaker. will the prime minister accept the overwhelming humanitarian case for guaranteeing long-term support to victims and survivors of terrorism? if so, will he agreed to meet with me and survivors of the
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london bombings to help with the services of survivors for peace program that is now faced with imminent closure? in doing so, would he remember his pledge that survivors of terrorism must know that they have the support of the whole country. >> can i commend the lady for the extraordinary work she did in government and continues to do in opposition in helping the survivors of the terrorist attacks, particularly the dreadful attacks that took in london? i have seen it first-hand, the experience and the bring glenn -- the brilliant touch she brings to this work. i'm happy to have the meeting that she discussed. in terms of the survivors of peace foundation, it is a unique charity. and does an extorting job in supporting victims and families. i have been discussing its future as well. obviously we want to make sure that all of these institutions
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can continue their excellent work. i'm happy to hold those discussions with her. >> we all want to see a more balanced economy. does the prime minister agree that the upward rise in business investment over around nine percent shows that british business, british entrepreneurs are really rising to this challenge? friend makes an important point. many experts have been saying that what we need is a balanced recovery, one that sees increase in exports as well as increase in consumption and business. increases in investment from business and the upgrading of the figures, the gdp figures show an increase in export. there is a large increase in business investment that is hugely welcome. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
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given yesterday's court revelation of a secret scheme, as a prime minister believe the parties and northern ireland progress elements dealing with a need for transparency for the two governments are guarding the confused ways in which they sort to deal with the past since the agreement? one particular street was involved in that matter. >> they were trying to deal with some of those difficult issues in northern ireland in terms of flags and parades. perhaps the most difficult issue of all will take a lot of courage and bravery from people on all sites. she wants to point the finger at downing street. i would like to deal with the report. they're happy to play their role in bringing parties together and making sure we can continue with peace with northern ireland.
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>> mr. speaker, given what the prime minister has called the leader of the opposition's new approach and the chancellor angela merkel's forthcoming visit, isn't there something we can learn from her about leaving broader approach to coalition building that we unite the whole country? he would have to give some red meat to them and red meat for us. it would have a huge advantage for all of us of leaving the liberal democrats where they belong. [laughter] admiration for angela merkel is enormous. there are many things that she has achieved that i would like to copy, not least getting reelected. the one thing i do not want to copy is the idea of a grand coalition is a bit too much for me. >> thank you, mr. speaker. what is best for the prime ,inister and government
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cooperation -- can you give assurance that those involved in criminality in northern ireland will not be in possession of a letter that there is passport to freedom? >> i think the gentleman makes an important point. i have been impressed with the work the crime agency is not doing. it is a huge improvement on its predecessor. it has got real strength in being able to tackle organized crime. i think it is bad for northern ireland that the nz is not able to properly operate there. i hope over time it will be possible to make progress. it would be good for northern ireland and for our against organized crime. >> thank you, mr. speaker. congratulations on [indiscernible]
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99 brave soldiers have given their lives for the country in afghanistan. in the same period of time, 264 british women are being murdered at the hands of men and three quarters were stalked for they were murdered. with the prime minister gave a guarantee that this government will introduce legislation to protect women from that fate in the future, particularly given the ease of stalkers by means of internet? >> i'm grateful to what my honorable friend said. stalking is appalling. they can destroy lives. we have introduced a new offense to make it clear. the new stalking laws are
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applicable to online stalking and harassment. there are published guidelines and online world and in the physical world. i'm happy to write with the details of all the things we are doing and see if there are firm steps we can take. >> when the prime minister was asked about the bedroom tax last march, he said what we have done is to exempt saving people who need an extra room. now that we know that people with terminal illness who cannot share a room, those who have to install equipment, and those with severely disabled children, are all subject to the tax. would you like to revise that answer and to apologize to the people to whom -- >> let me repeat that this is a basic issue of fairness. the people who are renting in the private sector do not get additional money for rooms that
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they do not use. it is not fair to have a different set of rules for the social sector. we also have a large discretionary payment system in order to help families like the ones she mentioned. >> thank you, mr. speaker. does the prime minister agree with me that the increase in jobs in the private sector is leading to u.k. economic recovery and helped by the range of engineers, manufacturers and retailers employing people in sending their experts around the world. >> i think my honorable friend is absolutely right. new -- 1.6 million new private sector jobs. inare seeing that growth employment in every region in the country. some are growing faster than others and we need to keep up
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the work to make sure this is a broadly balanced recovery. one of the indicators of economic success is week in, week out, the leader of the labour party cannot mention employment. he can't talk about the economy or jobs because all the things he says would never happen are happening in our economy. >> could the prime minister focus on giving up contracts? is it not time to change the test back to one based upon the medical -- [indiscernible] >> first of all, i hope it is not too uncharitable that the contract was awarded by the labour government. of course, we are discussing and debating with the company, but the fact is we do need in this country a way of determining
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whether people are fit for work or not. when it comes to the issue of sanctions in our benefit system, it is right that people who are offered a job and do not take the job do now faces the sanctioned. i think that will be the choice at the next election. one party in favor of hard-working people another party who wants bigger and bigger benefits. >> britain's armed forces are the best. they defend our interest at home and overseas. as we are witnessing, taking action in wedded areas. prime minister, please recognize the folly of reducing the size of the armed forces and stop sacking full-time servicemen and women. >> first of all, this gives me the opportunity to address the extraordinary role that the armed services have played in our country. it has been extraordinary to see their work.
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what we have done is remove the black hole that we were left. that meant taking difficult decisions, including difficult decisions over the size of the army, navy, and air force. what we have is a top prime defense budget in spending anywhere in the world. we are coming to the end of all of the redundancy issues. we can point loudly and proudly at the new aircraft carriers and submarines and the aircrafts and the best equipment that any armed forces can have anywhere in the world. >> speaker, yesterday i met a man who is 24 is old and he worked since he was 15 until he had to resort to going to the supermarket to find out of that food just a few could he. prime minister, he is desperate to work. why won't the prime minister offer him a job guarantee rather
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than having him to scavenge for food? >> what we are doing for billy and thousands like him are offering jobs and homes. -- jobs and hope that simply weren't there under the less labor government. honorable members opposite come here week after week to say that the country is either poor are worse off. let me remind her what it was like in 2009. in 2009, there were a million more people in poverty. 500,000 more children in poverty. 150,000 more unemployed people. 750,000 more people claiming benefits in 2009, so yes, there is more to do, but we have got a record for giving people hope and jobs. >> mr. speaker, over a week ago, i joined here people -- i asked
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them what they would like to ask the prime minister. one of them said to me he would like to know why the government keeps on making so many new laws? i want the prime minister to tell my young constituent what his administration is doing to reduce the burden of legislation. >> i think he has got a promising future. that is the attitude we need. this is going to be the first government since the war that leaves office at the end of the term with fewer regulations in place and at the beginning. they have done a brilliant job so we can greater wealth and jobs that we need. >> mr. prime minister, there hasn't been an oral statement for the house about the future of [indiscernible] it is expected that the
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university hospices will take on the whole running of the combined sites. will he accept that at the last count there was a funding gap? make sure whatever the new arrangements are there will be opportunity to question the government and that these changes will not go at the expense of the people. >> a written statement is being made today about the future of the hospital. it has been a very difficult issue to try and deal with the appalling situation that we were left in terms of that hospital. i'm sure there will be opportunities to debate. i think she will see what is being opposed are good steps to make sure they continue at the hospital and hard work will be put in to see if it is possible to make sure we continue with services so people can go and having their babies in the
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hospital. that is what i want to see. i'm sure there will be many opportunities to debate then and indeed all of the lessons that need to be learned from the failure of the past. >> thank you, mr. speaker. earlier this month, millions of londoners were inconvenienced by the pointless underground strikes. will my right honorable friend agreed to conduct a review to increase the threshold so the pointless strikes of our public services are outlawed? >> my honorable friend makes a good point. when you see how many people rely on these essential public services, the time has come to look at what changes can be made to see if it is possible to see fewer of these strikes in the future here at one of the problems we have seen is that the party opposite has completely decided to refuse to condemn what was an unnecessary strike.
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becauseot surprised they're going on a cozy weekend. we were told they were heading for divorce, but they are going to renew their vows. >> order. >> you have been watching prime minister's questions from the british house of commons. question time airs live every wednesday morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern and you can find video of past programming any time at c-span.org. >> the internet as we know it toay bears no resemblance monopoly telephone service back in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. what the courts have said and what congress supports is, if i walk into a grocery store and buy a gallon of milk, i am paying $3.50 a gallon. -- i buy 10 gallons, i
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pay $35 for all 10 gallons. say you can use as much milk as you want and you only have to pay $3.50. that is just wrong. offlix is the biggest user the internet as people download their movies. sometimes they are as much as 30% of the total volume of the internet. payously, netflix should more than somebody who uses the internet once a month. i am being very simplistic but that is the genesis. these companies have spent billions of and billions of dollars to set up their systems and provide the fiber optics and the mega-speeds that we just take for granted on a volumetric basis at some level, they should be allowed to charge based on volume. >> net neutrality and other telecom issues, monday on the communicators at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 2.
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>> next, state department special representative for afghanistan and pakistan, james dobbins. he delivered the keynote address on the future of afghanistan and u.s. forces in the region. at a discussion hosted by the u.s. institute of peace for about half an hour. >> good morning. my name is steve hadley, chairman of the board of the u.s. institute of these. i want to thank you all for coming this morning and welcome you all to usip. for those of you who don't know, usip is a congressionally created organization. we have a bipartisan board of directors that is confirmed by the senate. we do nonpartisan work in the area of conflict prevention,
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mitigation and resolution. as we see every day in the public media, the world is full of sources of conflict, religious differences, ethnic differences. usip believe that these sources of conflict do not need to to send to armed conflict. there are processes that can prevent conflicts from becoming armed conflicts. our job is to identify, teach and train people in these methods and processes. and to apply them on the ground in conflict zones to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflict. focuses on oneay conflict zone, afghanistan, where usip has been involved for over a decade in helping to
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develop policies, practices and programs that seek to end the conflict and bring peace. our program today will begin with a keynote address by ambassador james dobbins who is the special representative for afghanistan and pakistan within the u.s. department of state. we will then go to two panels. entitled,is afghanistan and the united states, the longview. we need to take a long view here. the panel will include four experts including jim dobbins' predecessor. it will be moderated by andrew wilder who heads the center for south and central asia here at the u.s. institute of peace. the second panel will be on the future of media in afghanistan. again, four distinguished david as chaired by
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moderator from voices of america. we hope that you can conclude from today's program that afghanistan still matters to the united states. america's national security therest are best served by emergence of a stable and prosperous afghanistan. this objective can still be and what has been accomplished in afghanistan over the last decade offers some grounds for optimism that we can achieve this objective. afghanistan has made great progress over the last 12 years in health, education, women's rights and economic development. you will hear about that today in these remarks. you will also hear about the political progress that the afghan people have made. a presidential election is
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scheduled for this coming april 5. for the first time, there is the will be that power handed peacefully and democratically from one leader to another. the presidential campaign is on in force. recent visitors to kabul have noted walls and billboards plastered with election campaign posters and unprecedented debate about the issues facing afghanistan today. all these issues will be addressed this morning. david, like to thank head of the voice of america who will chair the second panel and also deliver closing remarks. david first had the idea of this event. if wee to usip, and asked would be willing to cosponsor it. we were delighted to do so. thank theke to organizer of this event, the alliance for the support of the afghan people.
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the alliance was created fairly recently and one of its main purposes is to promote precisely the kind of discussions that we hope to have here today. with that, i would like to introduce our keynote speaker, ambassador james dobbins. ambassador dobbins was appointed a special representative for afghanistan and pakistan in may of last year. prior to that, he was director of the rand international security and defense center. ambassador dobbins has held numerous high-level state department and white house post. he has become perhaps the most experienced diplomatic troubleshooter in the u.s. government. he was the clinton and george w. specialinistrations' envoy for afghanistan, kosovo, bosnia, haiti and somalia. spots, he hit them all.
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him in thes involved withdrawal of u.s. forces from somalia, the american-led in turn mention -- intervention in haiti, the stabilization of bosnia and the nato intervention in cozumel. he is truly a man for all seasons and a good friend. after september 11, 2001, ambassador dobbins was appointed as the bush administration's representative to the afghan opposition with the task of putting together a broadly-based successor to the ousted taliban regime. he represented the united states at the bonn conference to establish the new afghan government. on december 16, 2001, he raised the flag over the newly reopened u.s. embassy in kabul. i can't think of a better person to be entrusted with guiding u.s. policy through the challenges and opportunities of
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the political insecurity transition and afghanistan. ambassador dobbins. [applause] >> thank you very much, steve. thanks to usip and the alliance for organizing this event and for inviting me to join you today. to the extent that afghanistan has impeded on the american consciousness over the past year , it has largely been the security transition that has dominated. most have focused on the u.s. and nato drawdown, the increasing role of afghan forces in conducting and leading the fight, and looking forward, on the fate of the bilateral security agreement and the continued uncertainty about whether the united states and ino will be staying or going
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2015. in afghanistan, increasing attention is being paid to another transition that has been put in train. from one elected leader to another. if the security transition goes badly, it may not make any difference who is governing afghanistan next year. the reverse is also true. if this political transition does not take place successfully, nothing achieved in the security sphere is likely to endure. thatf the bad news is uncertainty about the conclusion a continues to cloud the security transition, the good news is that the political transition continues to move forward on schedule and so far, without significant disruption. important progress this past summer including passage of electoral laws, appointment to
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electoral institutions, the finalization of the electoral operation plan, putting the afghans in a much better place than previous cycles. -- candidates nominated nomination period concluded. the vetting of candidates took place. hundreds of complaints against both presidential and provisional candidates were adjudicated. final candidate lists were announced including a list of 11 presidential hopefuls. the independent election commission has demonstrated its growing capacity and institutional strength in preparation for the upcoming elections. the announcement of electoral timelines, operational plans, ballot the german, design and distribution -- ballot procurement, design and distribution and electoral organizations continues to help create an environment of tonsparency, contributing
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rising confidence in the electoral process. the successful rotor registration drive began during the summer of 2013 in which new voters registered by the millions, largely without incident, also demonstrating greater iec capacity. although there is room for optimism in the iec's performance, overt political pressure could still derail this progress. fortunately, political entities have so far largely refrained from interfering in the electoral preparations. indeed, afghan officials have been disciplined for engaging in political activity. the independent electoral complaints commission is a relatively new institution. permanently established for the passage of new electoral law. the ecc successfully adjudicated complaints stemming from
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candidate registrations but has since made slower progress. the slow pace of appointing provincial officers delayed the establishment of professional electoral complaint officers. the memorandum of understanding to kolo kate and provinces -- in provinces has not yet been finalized. the publication of the electoral complaints commission procedure along with the february 18 and operation of 102 professional commissioners does represent important progress. the afghan security forces are hard at work. with security planning for the upcoming elections, they are devoting all available resources and energy to planning for many plausible contingencies. they are working in coordination with the electoral commission to strike the right balance, to increase participation without
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increasing the opportunities for fraud. on january 12, the ministry of the interior issued its assessment of polling center that 414and concluded of the 6000 polling centers would be an accessible on election day. has added anhe iec additional 300.3 polling centers to this list -- 323 polling centers to this list of those that would be an accessible. the iec released its list of over 6000 polling centers with 21,000 polling stations across the country. does not intend to add any additional polling centers to this list but given the dynamic security environment, some of those that have already been announced as open could fall into the closed category by election day.
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the release of the polling center list six weeks before the poll takes place marks a significant improvement over the 2009 elections when the polling center list was released only days before the election. monitoring and observation is one of the best ways to mitigate fraud and ensure credibility of the electoral process. consistent with afghan responsibility for elections, domestic observation efforts are being bolstered to enable over 12,000 domestic observers to monitor these upcoming elections. candidate agencies are also expected to participate in these monitoring efforts. is also inviting international observers to take part. national democratic institution, democracy international and international crisis group's are
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the three american organizations currently fielding international observation groups. the isceean union and also plan to send monitoring teams. usaid has awarded $8 million to support two independent commissions for the upcoming elections. the u.s. will continue to support the election process in a variety of ways while in no respect supporting any particular candidate or party. let me say a few words about the campaign. as the presidential campaign onl -- in in kab u on february 2, the posters appeared en masse. afghan society is showing increased democratic political
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sophistication with life -- lively media coverage focusing on platforms and voter opinions, a series of television debates focused on issues rather than half the city, have been particularly well received. news outlets offered minute by on theirdates websites, facebook pages and twitter feeds as candidates exchanged views on security, foreign affairs, the bilateral security agreement, corruption, economics and women's rights. variousks in, the presidential campaigns are increasing their presence .utside kbaul -- kabul independent media outlets are highlighting requests to travel to the provinces and present their platforms and purposes.
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there have been question and answer sessions to explain their thoughts. one conference earlier this month brought together many presidential candidates and campaign officials with women from 34 provinces to discuss substantive policy concerns. the first time something like this has occurred in afghanistan. overall, a cautious sense of takensm has taken cold -- hold in afghanistan regarding these elections. a year ago, many afghans doubted these elections would ever take place. more afghans are now confident about the process and hopeful about the elections. if successful, the elections could pave the way for afghans' first peaceful transfer of power. pollss are heading to the at a time of rising incomes. rising longevity. rising literacy. rising mobility.
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rising political engagement. also, of course, rising uncertainty about the future. aboute this uncertainty the security transition and about the continued international commitments, recent polling suggests that afghans remain more optimistic about their future than most americans are about afghanistan's future. tends to be more optimistic about their future than americans are about america's richer. thatost recent poll finds 67% of afghans believe their country is headed in the right direction as opposed to only 33% of americans. another striking figure is that 70% of afghans believe the upcoming elections can make a difference in their lives. be divided by ethnicity, language and religion but they don't seem to be experiencing gridlock.
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the current presidential campaign does not evidence polarization, but rather the opposite. public debates have serviced more agreement than discord facing the country. a recent survey, 76% of afghans believe they are better off today than they were under the taliban. again, i think the american figures for americans would be much lower. it is easy to see why the afghans feel this way. 2012,n 2002 and afghanistan experienced a greater improvement in health, education and overall standard of living than any other country in the world as measured by the u.s. development program. literacy has increased from 12% of the population to 30%. estimated 900,000
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boys were in school and virtually no girls. today, there are over 10 million children in school. nearly 40% of whom are girls. the number of teachers has toreased from 20,000 in 2002 175,000 today. higher education has also boomed . according to the world bank, student enrollment has increased to over0 in 2001 100,000 in public universities and institutes of higher education today. there has been a significant increase in students enrolled in private higher education. in health, life inspect and see has increased by more than 20 years. -- expectancy has increased by more than 20 years.
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in the 20 years since 2002, it has gone from 42 years to 62 years. infant mortality has decreased per 1000to 77 deaths live births. mortality from 172 to 97 deaths per 1000 births. evennal mortality fell more drastically, from 16,000 to 327 deaths per 100,000 births. these statistics are the ones that are largely behind this increase in overall longevity. economy, afghanistan's gross domestic product has grown an estimated 9% annually since 2002. overall, the afghan economy has more than tripled since the fall of the taliban.
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exports have increased from approximately 69 million in 2002 to 380 million in 2012. legal and regulatory reforms have improved the business environment and have already resulted in more than $1.5 billion investment in the telecom industry alone. was one mobile phone company with 20,000 subscribers. today there are four telecom companies with more than 16 million telephone subscribers. some offer 3g service. telecommunications networks reached 90% of the afghan population. two thousand two, only 6% of afghans have reliable electricity. today, over 30% of the population have such access.
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been, as has been noted, considerable progress regarding democracy, governance and press freedom. constitutional democracy has steadily taken root. the afghanistan constitution is arguably the most progressive in south and central asia. the past 12 years, afghanistan has had to bank presidential and parliamentary lay elections and two elections for provincial councils. parliament,eats in one governor, three cabinet members and 120 judicial positions are currently held by women. state1, there was one radio and television station. today, there are over 75 and 175on stations radio stations, all but two of which are private.
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regarding the status of women, female literacy has increased to nearly 15% nationwide. to 24.ng girls aged 15 almost 40% among young urban women. last fivemately the years, nearly 120,000 girls have graduated from high school. an estimated 40,000 are currently enrolled in public and private universities. in the executive branch, three women out of 25 serve as cabinet ministers. branch, womentive hold 68 of the 249 seats in the national assembly. approximately 25% of the elected provincial councils. maybe the most stunning figure regarding the changes in afghan attitudes that have taken place over the last decade is that
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today, five out of six afghans believe that women should have an education. this is an indication that the kind of changes we have seen are likely to despite all these improvements, afghanistan remains one of the poorest, least developed lands on earth. it is also one of the more theent, but by no means most violent. despite its ethnic, religious and linguistic visions, there is no ethnic cleansing going on in afghanistan and no purely sectarian violence. but there is an ongoing insurgency. it is conducted by those who would seek to reverse much of the progress of which i have spoken. these advances thus remain quite fragile.